A lady does not smoke cheroot.
She does not ride astride.
She does not fence or attend duels.
She does not fire a pistol, and she never gambles at a gentlemen's club.
Lady Calpurnia Hartwell has always followed the rules, rules that have left her unmarried—and more than a little unsatisfied. And so she's vowed to break the rules and live the life of pleasure she's been missing. But to dance every dance, to steal a midnight kiss—to do those things, Callie will need a willing partner. Someone who knows everything about rule-breaking. Someone like Gabriel St. John, the Marquess of Ralston—charming and devastatingly handsome, his wicked reputation matched only by his sinful smile.
If she's not careful, she'll break the most important rule of all—the one that says that pleasure-seekers should never fall hopelessly, desperately in love . . .
This was such a great book. I so adored Callie and could really empathize with her as she watched her much younger sister become engaged to a Duke while Callie sat firmly "on the shelf" as the family spinster. The scene in which Callie overhears her sister and future husband talking about making accommodations for Callie in their home was so heartbreaking. And I loved when Ralston's butler assumes Callie is a courtesan when she arrives at his home late at night. When she brazenly asks Ralston to kiss her and he says, "Why now? Why not wait for a man to come along ... and sweep you off your feet?" And she says, "If the man you speak of had ever planned on coming, my lord, I'm afraid he has obviously lost his way. And, at twenty-eight, I find that I am tired of waiting." When Ralston tells her that kisses shouldn't leave her satisfied, they should leave her wanting.... Well, I was left wanting a whole lot more of him!
I adored every scene in which Callie breaks another rule with Ralston by her side. Watching Ralston go from amused to intrigued to besotted was wonderful. Their banter made me laugh out loud more than once! Other things I loved:
-Juliana's interaction with her brothers and Callie
-The love scenes--whoo! Hot!
-That Gabriel called her "Empress"
-That Gabriel came around to embracing Callie's list and making her mission his even as he tried to deny what he was beginning to feel for her
-When she talks about being trapped in a gilded cage on the dusty shelf, and he later asks if she wants him to free her from her cage
-That Callie, who waited 28 years for a marriage proposal, turned down two of them in as many days
-The duel: so fabulous! "I aimed wide!"
I loved it the first time, and I loved it all over again when I re-read it for book club. Looking forward to Ten Ways to Be Adored When Romancing a Lord and Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart. Sarah is giving away an eARC of Eleven and a signed copy of Ten! My first question for Sarah is obvious: did you come up with those fabulous titles all on your own? :-) Welcome to book club, Sarah!
Find out more about Sarah's books here.
Here's a great recipe recommended by our resident gourmet chef, Ronlyn!
Ham 'N' Swiss Loaf
3-1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
2 envelopes Fleischmann's® RapidRise Yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup very warm water (120° to 130°F)
1/4 cup prepared mustard
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
3 cups (about 1 pound) chopped cooked ham
1 cup (4 ounces) grated Swiss cheese
1 (4-ounce) jar diced pimientos, well drained
3/4 cup diced dill pickles
1 egg, lightly beaten
In large bowl, combine 1-1/2 cups flour, undissolved yeast, sugar, and salt. Stir warm water, mustard, and butter into flour mixture. Stir in enough remaining flour to make soft dough. Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 4 to 6 minutes. Cover; let rest on floured surface 10 minutes.
On lightly floured surface, roll dough to 15 x 10-inch rectangle. Transfer to greased baking sheet. Sprinkle ham, cheese, pimientos, and pickles lengthwise over center-third of dough. With sharp knife, make cuts from filling to dough edges at 1-inch intervals along sides of filling. Alternating sides, fold strips at an angle across filling. Cover loaf; let rise in warm, draft-free place until almost doubled in size, about 20 to 40 minutes.
Brush loaf with egg. Bake at 375oF for 35 minutes or until done. Remove from sheet to wire rack. Serve arm. Refrigerate leftovers; reheat to serve.